Tchoukball revival

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco - The Philippine Star

BACOLOD – It’s a small step, but an important one. The Tchoukball Association of the Philippines (TAP) celebrates its return to activity with the Masskara Tchoukball Tournament at the Tay Tung School here. One of the activities launching the city’s month-long trademark Masskara celebration, the event was organized by the Tchoukball Association of Negros (TAN). Ten teams will participate in this fast-paced shootout of an event.

“Hopefully, it will inspire our partners in other parts of the country to promote the sport, as well,” says national team playing coach John Jamelo. “We’ve just had some small local tournaments the past few months.”

TAP sent an eight-man squad to the recent Asia-Pacific Tchoukball Championship. Because of travel restrictions brought about by the pandemic, the team was composed mainly of players from their home base here in Bacolod. The country had initially declined to participate, weighing the risk of traveling during the pandemic. However, support and clamor compelled them to start training just two months before the event.

Tchoukball was invented in the 1970’s as a means to practice for handball. A square trampoline-like frame is mounted at each end of the playing court. A semicircle is drawn around each goal. The aim is to bounce the ball off the frame, and make it land outside the forbidden zone without the other team’s players catching it. A player can only hold the ball for up to three seconds, and a team can only pass the ball a maximum of three times before making an attempt at either goal. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed sport.

The Philippines was making a lot of headway in international tchoukball before the pandemic. National teams had already cracked the top 10 in men’s and women’s events in beach tchoukball, and the federation’s top officials have been vital in the development of Asia-Pacific tchoukball itself. TAP even became a member of the Philippine Olympic Committee in 2018.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was particularly difficult for tchoukball, as its players are scattered all over southern Philippines. A dynamic team sports requires its players to constantly practice together. Instead, they were relegated to individual practice and online instructional meetings. Luckily, the community is very close, bound together not just by their sport, but also by their spirituality. Prayer gave them strength, motivation and unity through the difficulties. Technology was just a conduit.

Now, tchoukball is back, moving towards regular activity. It’s a small step, but an important one.


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